I have four fabulous sons. I have a mostly fabulous husband. And at some points in my life I too might have been considered fabulous.
Recently I felt fabulous – momentarily – as one of my sons told me of a conversation with a friend of his. “Your mom is intimidating. She is an impressive writer.” He quickly reassured her, “Oh, she is not nearly so impressive unedited!”
According to Christmas letters and Facebook pages most all of my friends are fabulous. Continue reading →
Four times I heard the doctor say “It’s a boy!” When Owen – the last – was born Andrew suggested that we trade him in for a girl. He thought we already had enough boys.
I love having all boys, although at times I have wondered if they were at a disadvantage not having a sister. I worried that girls would be these puzzling and mysterious creatures. Our choice of an all boys’ school for them added to my concern.
As with most things, I should not have worried. Girls arepuzzling and mysterious creatures, but that doesn’t seem to bother my boys in the least. Thanks to church youth groups and two near-by girls’ schools, the boys have had plenty of interactions with girls.
In fact, it might be a good thing if girls were a bit more puzzling to my youngest. After his first 7th grade social at a girls’ school, Owen came home saying “Mom, George and I were the bridge.” He explained, “All the guys were afraid to talk to the girls. George (another gregarious 4th child) and I would just go over to a group of girls Continue reading →
A stunning new dining hall at my sons’ school features this quote from Shakespeare engraved in stone high on the front wall: “Strive Mightily, but Eat and Drink as Friends.” It is an appropriate quote for a school where the competition and camaraderie are strong threads knitting together a community that spans generations.
But sadly, all too often parents and children “strive mightily” at the family dinner table, instead of “eating and drinking as friends.” Misguided efforts at control disrupt precious family fellowship.
It doesn’t have to be this way.
I am not one to just take the easy way out. In fact, sometimes I think I approached parenting with the motto “There must be a harder way!“ as if the hardest way was always the best way. No pain meds during labor, four sons in 5.5 years, cloth diapers, homeschooling – I did what I thought best for my children, even if it was hard. Hard is not bad, just hard.
But in some areas, it seems that my husband and I took paths that were much easier than those chosen by many of our friends. And we didn’t do it because it was easy, but because we thought it best.
Owen was 8. His brother’s friend was 14. We were all in the car driving to the lake for the weekend. The friend called his mom. “Did you remember to pack my contact lens solution?” “You didn’t! Mom, you always forget that!”
I looked at Owen in the rearview mirror. He was staring at the friend with a look of serious concern. Once the friend was off the phone he asked, incredulously, “Did your mom pack your suitcase?”
“Not very well!” the friend replied. Owen began to giggle. “My mom has never packed my suitcase!” Although this was not completely true, Owen had never known a day that he did not pack his own suitcase.
The youngest of 4 boys, Owen has always thought he was as old and as capable as his brothers. Early on, I would give the older boys written lists of items to pack for trips. Owen could not yet read, but asked me to draw pictures of what he needed. Pretty soon he could not be bothered with the list and just made his own packing selections. Admittedly, he has a preference for packing light. Once for a week at the lake house he packed a toothbrush, two swimsuits, a white t-shirt, and his church clothes. He managed just fine.
Football Moms Rock. I should know, as I have been a football mom for 4 sons over the course of 11 seasons. One year, at my peak, I attended 48 football games.
My younger sons started playing in early elementary school. Walking into those games, dressed in football pants and t-shirts, the boys labored to carry the bulky shoulder pads and helmet. Once, I offered to help John carry his pads. I got what I can only describe as a look of disdain coming from that little tan face. Disdain, not directed at me, but at the idea that a football player wouldn’t carry his own gear. Somehow he knew that was just not right.
Unfortunately, the idea that mom would be the one to wash the football pants and wrestle to replace the knee pads was not similarly offensive.
Through the years, my boys learned a lot about being men from football. I learned a lot about being a mom to boys. Continue reading →
The world of my childhood was experienced with two bare feet. Growing up in Montgomery, Alabama, in the 1960’s no children wore shoes in the summertime except perhaps the sons and daughters of the newly imported – families who moved to Montgomery from other environs, where apparently shoes were a sign of civilization. Not here. Not among the poor and not even among the rich, or at least those deemed rich by the standard of the sleepy town along the banks of the Alabama River.
Shoes were not required for school, prompting uninitiated newcomers regularly to visit the school principal offering to buy shoes for the poor barefoot children streaming into the school each day, the children of the local doctors, lawyers and business leaders – the classmates of their children. The esteemed local pediatrician, wise beyond his time, assured parents that barefoot was best. He had his medical reasons – but I just thought he loved us.
A whole world of sensation is lost on those who go through life wearing shoes. Continue reading →
I once read that the definition of a boy is “a noise with dirt on it.” This definition is a bit simplistic. I might instead say “a hungry noise with dirt on it,” but it does ring true to my ears . . . to the extent that they still work.
Boys are noisy. Boys are dirty. And this is good, for many of the most heroic things, done by the best of men, involve both. If you have boys or hope to have boys just accept this reality from the beginning. You will have a much happier life.
Early on, as the noise and the dirt started to get to me, I thought it through. At a fundamental level, boys are loud and messy. If I did not like these “qualities” then on one level I just did not like boys. Given that I appeared to be in the habit of giving birth to one every 19 months, that just would not do. Continue reading →
“The aim of the boy is to tell the world ‘I am a force to be reckoned with.’” Having known four boys quite well, I agree. Here are some thoughts on boys finding their callings.
On a morning walk through Krutch Park in downtown Knoxville, I notice something that should not be there.
The juvenile scrawl, in black Sharpie marker on the creek-side boulder, proclaims to all who pass “Bogey was here.” Other stones bear witness to the date and time of the visit and to Bogey’s love of soccer. One displays a drawing of a flag, firmly planted in the rock. Bogey left his mark.
When I come across the vandalism, I am confused and even angered. How can a child be so selfish? How could he have so little respect for the beauty of the setting, provided by the goodness of another? And even the self-righteous “Where was his mother?” These are valid questions, but not the most interesting. Instead, why did Bogey do it?
Recently I had to update my resume. While no one really enjoys the task, it is just one of those things regularly done, like taking out the trash or going to the dentist.
But I had not touched the thing in 24 years. When you are self-employed or volunteering, no one is checking a resume. A husband, trusting you with everything he owns and is, does not scan your educational credentials. A child, about to give you the significant task of becoming his mother, does not first look for evidence of parenting skills.
But my husband and I had been invited to apply to join an organization called L3, and, unfortunately, they needed a resume.
After searching in vain for a digital copy of my old one (Did I even have a computer in 1988?), I decided to start from scratch. I found a template online and began.
Name, address, and education: Auburn University. Harvard Law School. I’m on a roll here. This is not so bad. Continue reading →